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Archive for June 6th, 2012

Highmeadow Campground: Responding to trends in leisure travel

Car camping became  popular during the years following World War II.  Campgrounds across the United States began to offer sites with a place to park your car, along with easy access to water and rest facilities.  Following this trend,  Hershey made plans in 1962 to open a community camping and picnic facility in the north-west side of Hershey, out by the Hershey Orchard, where the Swatara Creek passed by the railroad.

Aerial view, Highmeadow Campground.  1974

Aerial view, Highmeadow Campground. 1974

The future camping site had been farmed for years by various owners and tenant farmers.  The stone bank barn (that today serves as the camp’s office and store) was built in 1843.

Highmeadow bank barn, 2010

Highmeadow bank barn, 2010

During the 20th century, the land was leased to tenant farmers who farmed the land and had the use of the farm and farmhouse.  In 1942 the land was sold to the Hershey Trust Company who continued to hire farmers to farm the land and who lived in the farmhouse.

Even though most of the land was used for farming, the area along the Swatara Creek was a popular picnic and camping site.  Groups such as local Democratic and Republican parties held picnics each year.  Various boy scout troops camped there each summer.

In October 1962 Hershey Estates began work to transform the area into a campground.  A new gravel road was constructed to permit easier access and different areas were designated for tent camping and picniking.

Highmeadow Campground grand opening.  l-r: James Bobb, Arthur Whiteman, Lloyd Blinco, Wallace Mayer.  5/16/1963

Highmeadow Campground grand opening. l-r: James Bobb, Arthur Whiteman, Lloyd Blinco, Wallace Mayer. 5/16/1963

While Highmeadow Camp was initially developed for local residents and organizations, demand for such a facility quickly led to it being made available to tourists as well as residents.  In its first year of operation Highmeadow Campground covered 10 acres and offered 50 sites with complete camping facilities, including tables, fireplaces and a modern bathhouse.

Camping along Swatara Creek, 1963

Camping along Swatara Creek, 1963

Highmeadow Campground’s immediate success led to its expansion the following year.  Over the years the campground expanded and a variety of amentities were added, including a swimming pool, self-service laundry, campground programs and activities, facilities for motor homes, and full-service cabins.